Since I got into adventure motorcycle riding I’ve done a little bit of trial and error when it comes to riding gear. It seems like sometimes you never find a jacket or gloves that really fit your riding style and you have to make do. Some of the products that I’ve purchased early on were done with very little research and experience and based mostly on cost. Other products were purchased after extensive research on the internet as well as lessons learned on the trail. Ideally I think we would all love to have top of the line gear however most of us have budgets that can prevent that. In this entry I will go over what adventure motorcycle riding jackets that I have previously worn and how they worked for me and my style of riding.
The first adventure motorcycling riding jacket that I purchased was done with very little research and it was a jacket that surprised me quite a bit. I picked up the HWK Adventure/Touring Riding Jacket for about $60 USD. Sizing was spot on and it fit my medium frame fairly well and a nice feature with this jacket are the adjustment straps around the waist so you can have a more tailored fit. In terms of armor and protection this jacket came with a level of protection that some higher end brands don’t really offer. The jacket came with CE armor in the elbows and shoulders and it had a high density foam back protector. From an abrasion perspective it was made with 600D Cordura fabric and had double stitching in key areas such as the elbows and shoulders. As for protection from the elements it came with a removeable thermal liner and the jacket was fairly waterproof.
Personally I wore the HWK Adventure/Touring jacket for a little over a year and for the most part it worked. I wore it while riding the Colorado and New Mexico Back Country Discovery Routes and even wore it on some late winter rides in Minnesota. My biggest complaint with the jacket was its quality. It had an unbelievable price of $60 USD but in the end I got what I paid for. Over the course of the year I subjected it to all kinds of abuse and towards the end it couldn’t keep up, the stitching started to come undone and the zipper broke. For the price it wasn’t bad and it fulfilled it’s purpose of keeping me protected and dry however, I think it’s better suited for light touring rather then off road adventure use.
My next jacket and the one that I wore up until recently was the First Gear Jaunt. Now I’ve owned the previous and current versions of this jacket and not to much has changed over the years. In terms of an entry level adventure motorcycle riding jacket First Gear hit the mark in terms of price ($250 USD), options, and durability. The Jaunt comes with CE1 armor in the elbows and shoulders and has a pocket on the back where the wearer could add their own back armor. For abrasion protection the Jaunt has 300D ballistic nylon panels in impact areas such as the shoulders and sleeves along with a waterproof 600D Denier outer shell. As a three season jacket First Gear incorporated six vents to aid in airflow and added a removeable thermal liner. Rounding it out the Jaunt has two large pockets on the outside as well as a water proof smartphone pocket on the inside of the jacket. Everything closes up with a two way zipper that’s covered by a double wind flap.
I wore my Jaunt’s for over two years and they were great jackets. They were a little stiff at first especially in the arms but after breaking them in they loosened up over time. My first Jaunt was the T2 model that isn’t made anymore and I really enjoyed it. I did have to contact First Gear about a warranty issue with it and they were great to work with as they ended up sending me a brand new Jaunt from their new 2019 lineup. The only complaint that I had were the colors that are available. First Gear offers color schemes in black, charcoal gray, and hi vis yellow. Personally I like wearing lighter colors and the hi vis yellow wasn’t something I was to interested in. Overall, I wore my Jaunt’s over 20,000 miles and it was a great jacket to wear for winter, spring, and fall. It was ok for summer riding in Minnesota and the venting wasn’t bad however, it didn’t provide enough air flow for late spring and summer riding down here in South Carolina. If your looking for an entry level adventure riding jacket with a lot of great features the First Gear Jaunt is a jacket I highly recommend.
This brings me to my current jacket and one I have only worn for about two months so it maybe hard to give a good review on it. Being in the hot humid climate of coastal South Carolina I found that I needed a lightweight jacket that had a good amount of venting as well as some decent crash protection. Initially I was interested in a mesh jacket however, they are weather dependent and some that I found didn’t really fit my riding style to well. After some research and talking to a couple of riders on Instagram I ended up going with the Klim Dakar Jacket.
The Klim Dakar is a jacket that’s made for off road and dual sport riding in warm weather climates. As you can see from the picture above it has large vents in the sleeves as well as on the chest and back. It’s a very lightweight jacket and ways half as much as my First Gear Jaunt. Now Klim products aren’t exactly cheap and the Dakar came in at $250 USD which isn’t to bad however, it doesn’t come with any CE armor and I had to add my own. Some riders may dislike this but on the other hand it helped Klim keep the price down. The Dakar is made out of 600D Denier material and has Klim’s Karbonite rip stop material in high wear areas for abrasion protection. Inside the jacket is a micromesh liner to aid in cooling and it does have ample room to wear a fleece liner for a cool morning ride. After two months of wear I’ve been very happy with the Dakar jacket and for off road riding in a warm climate it definitely does it’s job of keeping me cool however, due to the large amounts of zippers and venting it’s more water resistant then water proof which I’m somewhat ok with since it buys me time to stop so I can throw a rain suit on over it.
For the last few months several people out there have asked what I’ve worn for riding gear so hopefully this sheds some light on the adventure motorcycle riding jackets that I’ve worn for the last seven years. While these jackets worked for my riding style they may not work for everyone and I hope the experience and knowledge that I gained on the way can help some riders out.